Friday, December 29, 2006

Second Life: A venue for professional development?

Following is a transcript from the National-Louis University, National College of Education Technology Committee, in which I describe the professional development possibilities of Second Life. The participants are me, Stuart Carrier, Xiuwen Wu, Rob Bowe, and Jane Moore.

CraigC: okay, second life

CraigC: before i go any further, and before you go to the web page, does anyone know what secondlife is?

StuartC: not familiar

XiuwenW: No

XiuwenW: Heard of it

XiuwenW: on ChicagoTribute

JanePM: I followed the website earlier--seems weird--a virtual life?

CraigC: okay, let me be maybe the first to say this to you: this technology represents the future of distance education.

CraigC: i am writing a grant with CPS to do prof dev for CPS librarians.

RobertBo: with Gail bush?

CraigC: one of the central library people (head of tech) suggested investigating secondlife as a platform for pd

CraigC: (yes, writing it with gail)

CraigC: i was skeptical, because i had read the tribune piece and saw it mainly as a playground (which it is....there's all kinds of kinky stuff going on there)

CraigC: gail called it "loopy tunes" (but she hasn't seen it as i have)

RobertBo: You know what they say about Librarians.

CraigC: yes

CraigC: anyway

JanePM: That was my first impression as well...what does it offer that Tapped In, for example doesn't?

CraigC: there is a set of "islands" that are devoted to librarians

CraigC: i now have an office there

CraigC: and have met many of the key players

CraigC: (my wife has been wondering if i have a first life)

CraigC: and

CraigC: i have seen the future

CraigC: jane's question is THE question

JanePM: Scary!

CraigC: what's the value-added compared to tappedin?

CraigC: there will be a huge generational thing on this

CraigC: and many "serious" people will reject it

CraigC: but

JanePM: I can't imagine why I'd want to do professional development in a site where I can buy realistic vamp wounds.

CraigC: i think they will be wrong to do so

CraigC: lol

CraigC: jane, you are an object lesson in skeptism

CraigC: bear with me, okay

JanePM: That was on the first page I got to when I searched for you.

CraigC: i'm not given to wild embracing of new tech just because it's new

JanePM: Always glad to oblige.

CraigC: (jane, you're only on the web site, not the world)

CraigC: it's not a web site

CraigC: it's virtual reality

CraigC: interactive virtual reality

JanePM: OK, set us straight.

CraigC: with hundreds of "locations" and "events" and millions of users and growing FAST

CraigC: every person has an avatar

CraigC: (you see the 'scary" ones on the home page)

CraigC: the librarians are mostly more pedestrian in appearance

JanePM smiles

CraigC: (I've been playing with my appearance, as most people do)

JanePM: So, how do we "find" you?

CraigC: okay, i'll cut to the quck, becuase i have to take a phone call at 11

CraigC: my SL name is Dewey Jung

JanePM: Cute

CraigC: you can search for me if you ever get online

CraigC: my office has the NLU logo on it

StuartC: ok Dewey

CraigC: if i'm online i'll bring you to it

CraigC: (I hear the snickers already.)

CraigC: (this is going to be a tough sell, i can tell)

JanePM: So, we have to join to "see" you?

CraigC: anyway, the other day i was wandering around on infoisland, land "owned" by the alliance library system of western illinois

CraigC: yes jane

CraigC: this was before i met all the key players in the alliance's sl presence....they are the ones who gave me my office

CraigC: anyway

CraigC: i was wandering around and noticed a lot of people gathered together on my map, so i went to see what was going on

CraigC: i found

CraigC: a class on how to do animations in sl

CraigC: let me tell you, it was the most profoundly interesting distance education experinece i have ever had

CraigC: about 50 people from around the world gathered for this previously-announced class

CraigC: we all sat around in a comfy "lecture hall"

CraigC: the instructor told us all to click a spot to get the "course materials"

CraigC: we immediately had sample scripts, images, how-to guides, etc. in our inventory

CraigC: he told us where to find the shareware program qavimator.

CraigC: and how to install it

CraigC: he tells us to use the chat for very general comments and questions, but to instant message him wtih specific ones

CraigC: so the class begins

CraigC: there is a whiteboard

CraigC: he's set it up with screenshots of each step in the process

CraigC: we use our inventory to do more complicated stuff

CraigC: he's talking on the chat and some students are talking on the chat

CraigC: he is responding to IM's, almost immediately.

CraigC: my questions are answered immediately

CraigC: there is no need to 'wait your turn" or to try to listen to quiet voices

CraigC: meanwhile, the students are IMing each other, all over the place

CraigC: networking, finding out about cool tricks

CraigC: so we create animations

CraigC: and we TRY THEM OUT on ourselves during the class

CraigC: so you get to SEE immediately ,what people have done

CraigC: you can IM people to ask them how they did it.

CraigC: WIthin 1 hour we had all made animations

CraigC: within 2 hours we had all built complicated gestures with sound, animation, scripting.

CraigC: it was engrossing.

CraigC: okay, i'm done.

JanePM: I'm exhausted :)

XiuwenW: Does this site charge a subscription fee?

CraigC: not for basic membership

StuartC: i see the distance learning implications

CraigC: stu, i hope so

JanePM: Yes, if you can get past the initial impression.

CraigC: i chatted with a 70 yr old chemistry prof in world

RobertBo: It looks like some charge a fee.

CraigC: he beleives that the VR aspect adds a kind of "physical presence" of others that makes the whole experience so much more "real" than a simple chat room.

CraigC: i agree.

CraigC: yes you can spend money, for sure

CraigC: on land

CraigC: events

CraigC: "stuff" like clothing, skins, furniture

CraigC: but a lot of it is free, too

CraigC: and you can build your own stuff

CraigC: i built a sign, a table, decorated my office

CraigC: mark my words, folks, our "online" work is going to change dramatically within the next year or so

RobertBo: 5 cents to visit the doktor

CraigC: and i would bet

JanePM: We heard it here!

CraigC: that don grady is not going to lead the way.

JanePM smiles

RobertBo: Very interesting!

CraigC: i don't expect this committee to do anything right away

XiuwenW: If students can interact with an expert while viewing the solar system video, that'll be neat.

CraigC: i wanted to inform you

CraigC: we're going to write some experiments into our grant

JanePM: Thanks,'s worth exploring.

StuartC: definitely

CraigC: but we're also going to back it up with a webct presence

CraigC: (just to be safe)

StuartC: yes

CraigC: i recommend going in world

CraigC: look around

CraigC: if you don't find anything interesting, let me know, and i'll be a guide for you

CraigC: Dewey Jung

CraigC: or email me.

CraigC: i have to go

JanePM: Thanks, Craig. I need to go as well. Bye, all. Happy Holidays!

1 comment:

Prof. Kathy Kelly said...

Hi Craig,
I'm an adjunct professor at NLU and teach several courses in the BSMIS and BSM programs for CMB. I believe that VR sites such as Second Life could have potential for numerous educational applications. I have incorporated articles about SL in my courses and have brought up its possible uses in the curricula at several NLU meetings here in Mclean, VA. Unfortunately, the administration does not share my enthusiasm for the technology. Happy New Year!

Prof. Kathy Kelly